Fairtrade is unfair

September 7, 2008

The only really fair trade is free trade and some Fairtrade is actually anything but, as Dr Marsden Pririe writes at the Adam Smith Institue:

. . . the Fairtrade movement selects some producers to favour over others, insisting on cooperatives at the expense of family farms. By paying higher than market prices, it ensures that its favoured farmers do not have to respect market conditions which might tell others to cut back production in the event of a world surplus. They continue to plant and expand production, adding to the surplus and depressing prices for millions of poor farmers. As Griffiths says,

This is not just a matter of one lot of farmers receiving a little more and another lot a little less. It means subsidizing 1.5m coffee workers while paying 25m farm families – the coffee growers who are not part of Fairtrade – a lot less. Most of these are subsistence producers, whose income from coffee is tiny. Any fall in income will mean children dying from malnutrition or malaria.

This is one of those cases in which what were probably good intentions have ended up doing far more harm than good. Indeed, Griffiths closes by describing Fairtrade in uncompromising terms as “a scheme which threatens the impoverishment of millions.”

Hat tip: Anti Dismal


Another EFA breach?

September 7, 2008

A new blog botheyseopen purports to be:

…committed to the coming election being about parties’ real policies and real intentions, not personalities and spin…We are committed to the coming election being about parties’ real policies and real intentions, not personalities and spin.

That’s all part of the democratic process, and while I don’t agree with their obviously anti-National views they have a right to express them.

However, they are encouraging people to download and distribute posters and leaflets. These are authorised by John Carter, 77 Overtoun Tce Hataitai Wellington but he has no way of controlling the number and therefore accounting for the cost of what gets printed and distributed and so he’ll be breaching the Electoral Finance Act.

The website says:

We are committed to honesty, openness and transparency in politics… No, we are not from political parties – most New Zealanders aren’t – but we care about New Zealand and where we are going.

But the only name on the website is Carter’s so “we” are not being open, honest and transparent.

And of course it could just be a coincidence that it’s parroting Labour lines; and that like Labour and the other parties which rammed through the EFA, is ignoring it.

Hat Tip: Roarprawn


Sticks and stones

September 7, 2008

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me; when your’re dead and in your grave you’ll suffer what you called me.

That takes me back to the playground but it was a serious issue which reminded me of the schoolyard rhyme – whether or not it’s appropriate to use the term “gang rape” as an analogy for attack by words.

A post by Chris Trotter in which he used gang rape as a metaphor for the media coverage of Winston Peters led to an eloquent post by ex-expat and several heart felt comments at The Hand Mirror.

Today Deborah Coddington also used the expression:

… those bandwagon jumpers who used the article to excuse their media equivalent of gang rape. 

The Dim Post picked up on that and said:

A new cliche is trying to force its way into our political discourse. Now, as my readers know, I’m not in favor of hysterical hyperbole at the best of times. . . – but cheerfully throwing accusations of gang-rape around really is a bit beyond the pale and should be reserved for those who really are demonstrably guilty of this hideous crime.

I’m not going to go in to the difference between verbal, psychological and emotional abuse which are all serious matters and rape, gang or otherwise; nor am I going to discuss why employing the term rape in this way is offensive because I don’t think I can add anything to what the ex-expat has already said so well.

I’m going to confine myself to language and the point that a metaphor should not get in the way of what it is being used to express and the term gang-rape does. It offends and upsets people so that it obscures and distracts from the point being made.

To illustrate this look at this sentence by Karl du Fresne:

I squirmed at the brutal mauling Coddington got from people who were plainly unaware that she was present.

Gang rape versus brutal mauling – the first becomes the talking point, the second expresses clearly the strength of the attack without distracting from it.

If the purpose is for the writer to get attention then hyperbolic metaphors work. If the purpose is to add colour and clarity to a piece then it is better to employ a less offensive, less emotive but far more apt and effective turn of phrase.


Sunday social

September 7, 2008

Keeping Stock has a Friday Forum, NZ Conservative has a Friday Night Free for All, Friday Feminist is cross posted on both The Hand Mirror  and In A Strange Land, Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind does a Saturday Rant and here at Homepaddock there’s the Sunday Social.

It’s an opportunity to look back at the week that was, forward to the one ahead or to chat about the weekend.

We’re in Dunedin after the celebration of an 80th birthday at Plato last night. The cafe was a hostel for seafarers and is decorated in retro-style, stuffed to the gills with 50s and 60s kitch. That was very appropriate because I met the birthday girl in 1959 when she moved next door with her family. I was two at the time, so was the youngest of her four daughters and we’ve been friends ever since.

The birthday girl was an only child until she was about 19 when her parents had another daughter. Soon after that her mother had a stroke and the BG gave up her studies to look after her mother, care for her sister and teach her father to cook.

She married, had four daughters, immersed herself in home, family, church and community. I know no-one who has done more for others and done it both graciously and willingly. Her husband had a heart attack and died whens he was just 51 but she didn’t allow that tragedy to make her bitter and has carried on caring for and giving to her family, friends and society.

People like this don’t make the headlines but they make our world a much better place. As one of those paying tribute to her last night said, it’s angels like her who make heaven on earth.


Fathers Day

September 7, 2008

To celebrate or not to celebrate that is the quesiton?

Can we still enjoy the essence of any of these days – fathers, mothers, Valentines … in which we acknowledge the special people in our lives or has the commercialism all got too much?

My father died nine years ago, but my brothers and I used to give him  a little something on Fathers Day  always -liquorice all sorts when we were kids (not without a degree of self interest because he always shared them with us).

My farmer reckons it’s better to know you’re loved every day than to be regarded as special just once a year, and he’s right. But he does appreciate that our daughter lets lets him know she appreciates him on Fathers Day and I still welcome any chance for a celebration. which can be marked by a gift from the heart rather than from a shop so you’re not buying into the commercial hype.

So happy Fathers Day to all the dads.

Statistics NZ crunched some numbers as their way of acknowledging fathers and came up with these figures:

  • The average age of fathers of new babies is 33 years, but one in 100 babies has a father aged 50 years or over.
  • Today’s newborn babies have fathers who are, on average, five years older than their own fathers were when they were born.
  • Fathers with children aged under one year manage 42 minutes less sleep than the average of 8.5 hours.
  • Over a lifetime, fathers have seven fewer Father’s Days, on average, than mothers have Mother’s Days. This is because men generally start parenting later in life and women have a longer life span.
  • More than a quarter (28 percent) of babies born in New Zealand last year were to fathers who were not themselves born in New Zealand. This compares with 22 percent a decade ago.
  • On Father’s Day 2007, 145 babies were born.
  • Men still tend to marry women younger than themselves, but the gap between their average ages at first marriage has narrowed. In 1967, the gap averaged 2.5 years, but by 2007 it had narrowed to 1.8 years.

At the time of the 2006 Census:

  • Approximately 19 percent of fathers had a tertiary qualification of a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Approximately 13 percent of fathers worked from home or didn’t go to work on census day.
  • Fathers were more likely to help around the home than other men – 91 percent of men who live in a parent and dependent child family did household work, cooking, repairs, gardening, and the like, for their own household compared with just 79 percent of men who were not living in a parent and dependent child family.

And I won’t spoil the spirit of celebration by asking of the last point how much of that help around the home they did in comparison with mothers 🙂

Update: Keeping Stock has another perspective on Fathers Day here.

Update 2: Other posts on Fathers Day over at Roarprawn and The Hand Mirror and a cynics view at the Dim Post


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